Monday, December 31, 2012

Security alert!

Although the restrictions aren't as tight as on airlines there are still security procedures when boarding a cruise ship and all luggage and passengers are scanned at the terminal. Down at Southampton the scanning of hand luggage is carried out mainly by women with just a sprinkling of men over retirement age - I guess those in the area who are male, fit and healthy will be otherwise involved in work on the docks or actually handling the large pieces of luggage that many of the passengers bring (you would not believe how literally some people take the suggestion that there is no luggage allowance limit!)

Anyway, there was I, having passed through the security 'doorframe' (or whatever it's called), merrily replacing my boots and putting on my coat in readiness for my bag to reappear when I realised the lady scanning it had called her supervisor over! They both looked very confused for a minute or two, and then it dawned on me! The nice supervisor lady approached me and asked in a puzzled tone if I had "brought a lot of pens on board with me?" Because the scanner had picked up several short pointy metal objects .......

I immediately explained and offered to take my KnitPicks interchangebles out of the bag so that they could see, the supervisor asked if she could show them to her colleagues and suddenly there was a lot of interest with the ladies crowding round, commenting on what a brilliant idea they were and asking where they could get some for themselves :0)

I was just relieved that I had woken in the middle of the night before and moved them from my main suitcase to my hand luggage as it would have been rather embarrassing to have been called to open my case when their scanner picked them up.

Now that Christmas has been and gone I have had an 'after Christmas present'. DD was the lucky recipient of two identical Cath Kidston purses and when she went to change one, of course lots of things were in the sale and, to make up her money, bless her, she included this for me

How sweet is that? And how cute is he?

Totally changing the subject, each year I like to keep a note of the books I have read, last year I was surprised to find it I had read 14, well this year it was 15 and they are:

*The Surprise Party by Sue Welfare
*Hostile Witness by Rebecca Forster
*The Secret River by Kate Grenville
*Chasing the Dime by Michael Connelly
*The girls guide to home making by Amy Bratley
*Thursdays at Eight by Debbie Macomber
*A murderer's heart by Julie Elizabeth Powell
*Where are you now? by Mary Higgins Clark
*The Saturday Supper Club by Amy Bratley
*Escape by Barbara Delinsky
*Never Buried by Edie Claire
*A is for Alibi by Sue Grafton
*Thursdays in the park by Hilary Boyd
*Tread Softly by Wendy Perriam
*Doors open by Ian Rankin

And finally I have, at long last, got around to translating the Samaritan's Purse Stretchy Pull on Hat so that I can knit it in the round on my lovely 7mm 40cm Addi circs that I bought because I stupidly didn't realise the pattern was knit flat specially to make these hats which are super stretchy, so will fit a variety of head sizes/ages, and wonderful stash busters, as they use anything that makes a chunkyish yarn ie 2 strands of DK or 3 of 4ply, etc, great for the charity knits I make either for Knit-a-square or our knitting group at work.

Happy New Year.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

And Kevin came too

Yes, I know, I am totally mad but you see we have this chicken at work called Kevin who is a very well travelled bird and who likes to come on holiday with us, he is well behaved but does like to have his photo taken wherever he goes, so when he found out that DH and I were going on a pre-Christmas break naturally he had to join us....

We went up to Gothenburg, Copenhagen and Hamburg and though the sea was rather rough at times and the temperatures quite low (hence me knitting a hat and scarf for Kevin) we had a thoroughly enjoyable break.

We found a morning long enough to be out in the cold

Copenhagen town

Frozen river in Copenhagen

and returned to the ship for a late lunch and to relax and chill (in the other sense of the word).

I was able to indulge in both reading and knitting without this happening

Hugo knitting

And so I finally managed to finish the Color Affection shawl though it is still awaiting blocking, end darning and photos, make something for a colleague who is shortly going on maternity leave (again to be sewn up) and whipped up a little something to add to DDs Christmas stocking......

Ice scraper mitt

She had been complaining how painfully cold her hand got whilst scraping the car so I created this for her, using an oddment of Drops Eskimo, top down and winging it by way of a pattern. The 'shoulders' are maybe a little wide but I guess that gives wriggle room and should do the job.

We returned just in time to do last minute preparations for the family to descend on Christmas Day which went quite well apart from the lack of Christmas Pud as when I went to turn it out I discovered that my 26 year old slow cooker had given up the ghost, and not cooked it either previously or during the morning. Thank heavens I had made a trifle on the spur of the moment Christmas Eve, though I felt it was quite poignant as not only did my dear departed MIL give me the slow cooker, but she used to make a Christmas Pudding for us every year.

Nevertheless we had an enjoyable day and I received a few knitting related gifts..

the calendar from DH has become a rather nice tradition, the book and yarn I chose and bought for mum and dad to give me! and the enamel mug is for me to take when we go on our long distance walks as the melamine mug I had bought objected to boiling water and cracked on day 1 of our holiday!! and as we are now starting to plan next years expeditions it should come in very handy.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Thank you, Hugo

My knitting time has been seriously curtailed just lately with the arrival of Hugo. DD's kitten had been living at her BF's but was poorly and in need of some TLC just as DD had a spell of long hours at work - so it was Mum and Dad to the rescue and little Hugo came to convalesce.

However, he is so much happier here, (more human contact, less being bullied by the other cats in the house) that he's packed his little suitcase and moved in permanently. He's quite a handful but it is lovely to see more of DD too.

Needless to say a kitten (who is definitely feeling much better) plus wool and wiggly needles does not make for a relaxing time - more like chaos and soggy wet ends of yarn. However, I have discovered something I can do with him on my lap, and that is something I have tried on and off over the years.

So whilst Hugo does this....

I have been doing this
Ok, it's not much but I have finally mastered tatting- so thank you, Hugo.

I've still been doing a little knitting in my lunch hours at work (where no one tries to play with my pointy sticks, lol) and have made

A bookmark for my friend Liz's 60th - you might have guessed she loves owls and having found the perfect bead the idea developed from there using Ysolda Teague's Hoot! pattern.

Carole Barenys preemie cardigan which will probably be sent to Bonnie Babies since the Little Love project at work has been so successful that the local SCBU has all they need for the moment

Finally some Hand Thingies adding the finger holes from the instructions on the Phalangees pattern from Knitty and using one of the gorgeous skeins of Aysen that Rhonda my co-administator on the Knit-a-square group on Ravelry gifted me earlier in the year.

And just in case you were wondering Hugo is named after the Familiar that belonged to Pongwiffy the witch in the lovely stories DD and I used to enjoy reading together when she was little - the only difference being, that her Hugo was a hamster with a german accent (which helped make it a wonderful book to read aloud.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

This week I have been mostly making.....


The knitting club at work decided that we would make some woolly poppies to raise funds for the British Legion poppy appeal rather than having the usual paper poppies. So I tried several different (free) patterns to find one I liked. I do love the crochet poppy with the leaf but having made the tunisian crochet blanket and a few other bits lately my RSI decided enough was enough and crochet hurts at the moment - now I know if I give it a good rest it will be ok again, I also know if I keep going I'm putting my ability to knit comfortably at risk as well, and for those that know me, (though I may not be prolific), that would be the end of the world!
So, lovely as that poppy is (and it's going to be mine!!) it's going to be unique and knit poppies are the way forward, and I really enjoyed making Cosmic Pluto's poppy (bottom and top left). It was a bit of a challenge with the DPNs, I find you just get enough stitches on them to tame the hedgehog when it's time to cast off, but it's good practice and I like them!

In other news.....
I've just had a week off and had wonderful fun making a mess
having unearthed my standard gauge machine after some 15 or so years, and with the guidance of some very helpful folk over on the Machine Knitting forum on Ravelry I saved myself £180 (the quote for having the machine cleaned) and boy did it need a clean! I loved the detailed instructions one of the forumites gave on removing the needles which continued "repeat 199 times", now I just need to relearn how to use it. Watch this space...................

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Lacemakers cake

Yesterday was the 25th Anniversary lunch of the Tonbridge Lacemakers and as all celebrations need a cake, two of our very clever members made this...

Believe it or not, apart from the threads, it is all completely edible (though there were a number of very blue tongues after tea!)

Even the bobbins were made of sugar paste - and just to show how good they were, the bobbin on the right is the edible one, and the bobbin on the left is a real painted wooden one, an (early) birthday present from my lovely lacemaking friends.

I spent the day (apart from eating and chatting) sewing in the numerous ends of my finished lace mat, it has only taken me about 18 months to make !! and the worse thing about it was that a very kind lace friend had lent me her pillow to use as mine wasn't large enough - I felt quite guilty about the length of time I'd had it, (though she wasn't concerned), and returned it to her with a large box of chocolates in thanks.

It wasn't really that difficult, mostly straight forward torchon and I thoroughly enjoyed making it, but it will be a long while before I make anything quite that big again.

Monday, October 01, 2012

Black and white fluff

DD and her BF have just adopted an unwanted bundle of black and white fluff, does that make him my Grandkitten I wonder? I guess it must because I did what every good grandmother should do and got out yarn and needles to make him a toy.

Using the Captain Catbattler pattern, but making a sturdier (plaited) tail and no eye patch, it wasn’t long before Mr Mouse was ready for action.

Do you think Hugo liked him?

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Bears and Squares

Well technically it's Bear and Squares in my case

The Tunisian crochet blanket that I started in July and a knitted bear to go with it is ready to take up to Ally Pally, in a couple of weeks, for the Bears and Squares campaign for Refuge.

I had the idea of alternating different Tunisian crochet stitches with squares of Tunisian simple Stitch.

But it wasn't until I had almost finished that it dawned on me - wouldn't it have been better to have used the plainer yarn for the fancy stitches, and the fancy yarn for the plainer squares?! Oh well, must have been someone elses turn for the brain cell when I first thought about it! Still, I'm rather pleased with the end result nevertheless.

The bear is from Val Pierce's 20 to make - Knitted Tiny Bears and reminds me of a little girl wearing her big sisters dress, (I suppose I could pretend it was deliberate so that the bear can be undressed more easily - no? oh well, just a thought) but hopefully someone will still love her anyway.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

The Birds and other random reminiscences.

Look out Mr Hitchcock, I think we are about to remake your film in our back garden!
I've tried to count them several times and I get an average of 142! No need to aerate our lawn this year then!
I remember watching the original film, I was only about 10 or 11 and it was on in the TV lounge of the guesthouse I was staying in with my grandparents in Margate - I was terrified, but Nan wouldn't let me go up to our room because she said it would be rude to leave the lounge when the other guests were still watching, so I spent most of the film behind a cushion! (Though I loved her dearly she had some very strange ideas of etiquette.)

Birds and flying leads me to .....

It was such a lovely day yesterday I couldn't resist a picture of what we get up to on a sunny Saturday afternoon - having spent quite a while taking photos of 14" wingspan planes whizzing passed me at about 20mph I deserved a rest and a knit while DH tried out one of his bigger models.I still had the camera to hand and the clouds looked so nice.
I must say I always thank heavens for digital cameras when I'm shooting these little planes, you have to take a very large number of pictures and only a small percentage are sharp enough for the exacting standards of the magazine - I just don't know how they managed in 35mm days, bet the chemist was happy when the saw one of our lot approaching!
This flying site is only a couple of miles away and it is so peaceful there, on a warm sunny day the only other sounds are the occasional train chugging passed in the distance and a few dogs barking in the Kennels several fields over.

And after yesterdays sunniness (is there such a word?) today is more like winter, dull rainy and cold - you can tell winter is approaching because I have started making soup again.
Believe it or not this used to be a favourite of DD and her friends when she was younger - offer them Leek and Potato soup and you'd get a "No Thanks!" but
add a toast man and call them 'Snot Surfers' and the plate was clean!
I think some of it may have been to do with the fact that I was probably the last person they would expect to say something like that. Being a slightly older mother I was always assumed by DD's friends to be boring and staid and then I'd go and do something unexpected - Like the time her friend came back for tea between school and the school concert and they took so long to clear up having had a really good time that I could see we were likely to be late - DD's little friend thought I would be cross (like her mum would have been) but they had been tidying I just said "Oh well, we'll just have to skip to school then" and we did, literally, the 3 of us holding hands and skipping the 1/2 mile through the estate and down the main road to school!!
After her initial shock DD's friend started giggling along with DD and so 2 very happy little girls and one (slightly panting) mother arrived just in the nick of time - so much easier, more fun (and quicker) than scolding and chivying

I think I'd better stop now before I get all nostalgic and bore anyone reading this but I did just text DD to let her know I'd made soup and she could have some for lunch at work tomorrow.... and guess what she asked for to go with it :0)

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Little Boy Blue Preemie Hat

Every so often I look at a stitch pattern and wonder what else I could do with it. This time it was purls in a vertical row on the knit side, and as I am still making lots of things for The Little Love Project naturally my thoughts turned to baby items. I had recently acquired a small amount of nice denim-y blue 4ply, so a hat suggested itself, and a couple of scrappy bits of paper and a few lunch breaks later I had 'designed' a pattern.

(Haha, designed indeed! I really don't think of myself as a pattern designer - far too grand a label, but how else to put it.)

So anyway, in case someone else out there might like to try it - here is my

Little Boy Blue Preemie Hat
Available in two sizes, preemie and small newborn, knit flat and seamed

A small amount of 4ply
3.25mm knitting needles

Cast on 56sts (72sts)
Work 2x2 rib for 1 1/2”

Row 1: Knit
Row 2: P3, K1 across the row

Repeat rows 1 and 2 until work measures 4 1/2” (5”)

Decrease as follows:
*Start decreasing at Row 1 for larger size, and Row 5 for smaller size*.
Row 1: (K7, K2tog) across row (64sts)
Row 2: Purl
Row 3: (K6, K2tog) across row (56sts)
Row 4: Purl
Row 5: (K5, K2tog) across row (48sts)
Row 6: Purl
Row 7: (K4, K2tog) across row (40sts)
Row 8: (P3, P2tog) across row (32sts)
Row 9: (K2, K2tog) across row (24sts)
Row 10: (P1, P2tog) across row (16sts)
Row 11: K2tog across row (8sts)

Cut yarn leaving a end long enough to sew seam – thread through remaining 8sts, draw up, sew back seam keeping it as flat and smooth as possible. Turn up brim.

Of course there is no reason why this hat shouldn't be knitted in pink or any other suitable colour. Feel free to knit these for your favourite SCBU/NICU, local charity or any preemies you know, but please use the pattern in the spirit in which is was intended and do not profit from them.
Please note: I am not a pattern writer, just someone who enjoys knitting and making up patterns for charity, so I hope this is clear and without mistakes, but if you do find any please let me know so that I can correct them.
Thanks and enjoy.

Monday, September 03, 2012

Keeping it in the family

August bank holiday weekend means only one thing in the Modelwidow household - The National Model Flying Championships. For more years than I care to remember, assorted and varied members of the extended family make the pilgrimage to Barkston Heath airfield in Grantham Lincolnshire to attend the event.

Now, as BIL is the editor of a well known (buyable in WHSmiths type) model magazine, and DH is the deputy editor and web editor, there is quite a connection with this field and for the last couple of years we have had a stand in the trade area promoting the magazine to which DD and I are dragged invited along to help.

So this it where my lovely DD and I spent our bank holiday. To be honest, we love it, it is great to be part of DH's world, to see how respected and known he is. DD may be 19 now, but as she put it "I see how people talk to him and think, that's my dad!"
We spent an enjoyable weekend, working harder than we do 9-5, but meeting lots of nice people and some others!
Because our 'shop' is only made of canvas, sturdy though it may be, we can't leave the stock over night so it's a case of unloading and loading the van daily - done rather hastily on the Saturday evening as a rather spectacular storm could be seen heading our way - shame I was too busy rushing in and out with boxes to take photos of the sky.

The 'shop' may be canvas, but I do draw the line as far as that goes with sleeping facilities - been there, done that and had the tent smack me round the face every 5 minutes all night because it has been so windy - and with the excuse that working girls need a good shower and a comfy bed we stay in the nearby Premier Inn - it's fun watching the receptionists face when up to 5 people all with the same surname but split across 3 or more different rooms book in (though sadly FIL now 80 decided not to join us this year).

Last year I was so tired at the end of each day that I didn't knit a stitch. This year we were much better organised, less stressed and it all went so smoothly that I finished the Well Travelled Hitchiker
.....and didn't have anything else to knit!!!
However, much to my family's amusement, I found the only stall at the event selling a few balls of baby wool and quickly checking Ravelry (well as quickly as my phone would allow) I found the Simple Lines Baby Blanket pattern and cast on, keeping me happy for the rest of the weekend.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Pride comes before a fall

This is what you get when you think you know what a pattern says....

And this is what you get when you actually read the pattern properly

Amazing what a difference just 1 knit stitch can make in each row, I saw it was a 2x2 rib, thought I knew better than to cast on an odd number of stitches despite what the pattern said and well, as they say, pride comes before a fall ..........
Lesson learnt!

Sunday, August 12, 2012


This weekend it was the annual Airshow at Eastbourne, DH likes planes and I have to confess to being a bit partial to the noisy fast jets myself. I also love the sea, and though there is no way you would get me on a beach holiday (I'd be bored in 5 minutes sunbathing and as for sand - horrible stuff!) sitting on a pebbly beach watching an air display is quite another matter.

We set off early and found ourselves a nice little spot, and whilst waiting for the display to begin DH got out his paper and naturally I got out ....
an innocent smoothie hat, much to the amusement of people around us (made even worse when I took the photo!)
I didn't think it was appropriate to take the preemie hats I'm making for The Little Love Project, somehow cream yarn, beaches, salt air and suntan lotion just didn't seem the ideal mix, but little hats in assorted colours kept me out of mischief nicely between the displays,

and whilst waiting for my favourite plane of all time
The Vulcan
It just doesn't look like it ought to be able to stay in the sky, it's so big and heavy and slow - and as for the roar from those engines as it climbs - it still makes my hairs stand on end!

We were so lucky with the weather too, the best we have had for several weeks, actually it was rather too nice, and despite topping up the suntan lotion, I think I may have to change my name to Rudolph!

Sunday, August 05, 2012

There's grateful, then

There is an independent charity shop that DH and I like to browse in as we pass on a Saturday morning, often we find nothing, sometimes we find a treasure. This week I bought 600g Patons Smoothie DK for £6, and DH bought me a knitting book......

and as a thank you I suggested I make him something from it - but strangely he declined my kind offer!
I can't imagine why ;0)

I have been busy knitting though and just finished another blanket for The Little Love Project
Though if I am honest, it has a 'design feature' - I ran out of the wool (by the looks of the label it was rather old Peter Pan) which I picked up in a charity shop, so with no chance of getting any more, the frill is only round three sides. Still, I keep telling myself this was meant to be as a straight edge would be much better up near baby's face!

Sunday, July 22, 2012

While the cat's away

This little mouse had intended to learn something new.

Usually when DH takes to the hills goes walking in the Lake District on his own, I sort my self out a treat or two and teach myself a new craft, or variation on a theme. I decided on Knooking and even bought the beginners set and a book from Amazon, but then I decided to be a good girl and finish off all those odd bits that have been waiting just for buttons or blocking or for ends to be darned in - and so I did.

First the Handspun Delight Shawlette
Which had been waiting to be blocked for far too long, it is made from the gorgeous Araucania Aysen that RhondaH (co-moderator from the Knit-a-square group on Ravelry) so kindly sent me. It was as lovely to knit with as I thought it would be and not at all splitty as I expected, it blocked beautifully too but will have to wait to be worn as it seems that summer has finally arrived this weekend - although the air conditioning at work has gone beserk again so may be it will get used sooner than I think.

Out of the remainder of the two skeins of this colour way I had also made
a hat and an 8" square to send off to Knit-a-Square

Then I got to work on some ends and buttons
and now have another collection of knits ready for The Little Love Project

Other than that I have been merrily working away on my tunisian crochet Refuge blanket and knitting the border on another baby blanket for The Little Love Project, oh and I might just have popped down to the wonderful, small family run department store in our little town and bought (a bit too much) baby wool in their sale - well after all, it is important to support these great independent local stores, isn't it?

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Easily led

I do I find it hard to stay loyal to just one cause with my charity knitting.

I've had to scale back what I was making for Knit-a-Square because the postal costs to South Africa became ridiculous after the price hike in April, but I am very happily knitting away for The Little Love Project and thoroughly enjoying it, as well as making the odd Innocent Smoothie hat when I need something really small and simple.

I was very tempted when I first saw the Bears & Squares appeal for Refuge in Simply Knitting, but I told myself, no, Little Love was enough, and besides, this year they want whole blankets (not individual squares like last year), and for a while I was happy.

Yesterday, however, at the Lacemakers meeting several friends were teaching themselves Tunisian Crochet, and I realised I hadn't done any of that for a long time. I came home and before I knew what had happened......

a handful of yarns had jumped out of the cupboard along with my Denise Interchangeable hook and the first strip for the blanket was appearing (blow casting on, casting off and then sewing squares together - it's 6 in a row for me!)

These yarns are fluffy or textured so they aren't any good for the preemie babies delicate skin, and I will take the blanket with me to Ally Pally where they are collecting them to save postage. I'm alternating the green brushed DK with oddments in different colours and different stitches and I have already done 4 and a bit of the 24 squares needed.

Saturday, July 07, 2012

Emirates Air Line

Also known as the Thames Cable Car

Reading the paper at the end of last week, DH suddenly announced "I'd like to go on that!"
The new Emirates Air Line had just opened, and despite it being the least likely thing I would have expected him to want to do, that's just what we did.

Sadly the weather wasn't as kind as it could have been, so apologies for the photo quality - the camera tried to focus through the rain on the gondala windows, but didn't succeed too well.
The cable car goes from the Royal Docks, reached by the Docklands Light Railway (weird not having a driver and being able to see down the track out of the front of the train) approx 1km across the Thames to Greenwich reaching a 'cruising height' of 300ft (yes everything is termed as if you are flying, including the boarding passes -instead of tickets) and it was BRILLIANT!

The views were stunning, even given the weather
Thames Barrier

The Dome and Canary Wharf

The veiw with the Olympic erm... 'sculpture'

And coming in to 'land'

It was really great and over far too quickly. We wanted to do it all again, and will do soon, hopefully in better weather. From Greenwich we walked along the Thames back to Charing Cross, as is our wont, via a Costa or two, with a picnic lunch on the way. It was such a good day I can definitely see us incorporating the Cable car into our London walks again, though hopefully in better weather next time.

And of course I have to show you what I made on the train
Three little Innocent Smoothie Hats

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Who needs mothers day?

We don't do 'Mothers day' in our family with the theory that mothers are special every day and not just because the calendar says so. So it is always a pleasure and a treat when my lovely DD comes home with some flowers for no other reason than she saw them and thought I would like them. That really makes me feel loved.

I've been making a flower too,

for this months Baker's Dozen square I decided on the Crocodile stitch dahlia block, which wasn't as difficult as it first looked thanks to a well written pattern (as long as you remember it uses american crochet terms)

And talking of crochet (do you see how everything follows on neatly in this post?) I seem to have caught the hooky bug and this little lady flew off my hook this weekend

She is actually supposed to be a bunny but having embroidered the face DD and I decided she looked much more like a bear, so I adapted the ears to match and here she is, a bit of a strange little creature, but she will be finding her way into a charity parcel of some sort and hopefully a little person will give her a new home and love her.